Thursday, January 31, 2013


            Organisational behaviour refers to the study of the individual as well as the group dynamics in an organisation. McShane & Von Glinow (2000) argued that the main goal that organisational behaviour serves is to help the various members of the organisation to forge helpful relationships between themselves, the groups as well as in the whole organisation so as to allow for the achievement of the personal goals as well as the organisational goals. The interactions between the inherent characteristics of the different members of the firm will lead to the creation of an organisational characteristic. The paper will be useful in gaining an understanding the role that leadership can play in a firm towards the achievement of the goals of an organisation. Above all else, the paper will also be important in helping to understand both the theoretical as well as practical aspects of OB. IKEA group is a Sweden based company that was founded in 1943. The company deals with home furniture and furnishing products which are old through the firm’s chain of stores which are found in the different parts of the world (28 countries) with a high concentration being in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The firm started out mostly with the Scandinavian countries but currently the firm has over 148 chain stores distributed in the different countries (IKEA, 2012). The paper is about the organisational behaviour that is exhibited at IKEA especially with a focus on the group and team work at the organisation. The paper will also delve into how the problems related to the organisational behaviour at IKEA can be dealt with. The paper has a literature review that will give the theoretical background of the concept of organisational behaviour with a specific focus on leadership and the various components of group and team work. The literature review will be followed by an analysis which will combine the various elements of the literature review with the issues that are found at IKEA. A discussion will then ensue regarding the findings from the analysis; here, possible solutions and way forward will be given. A brief conclusion will then be given regarding the issues that are discussed in the paper.
Literature review
Leadership refers to the will to trigger other people to work towards the achievement of a variety of goals that they seek to achieve. The leadership has also been defined as a trigger to people so that they can work towards the achievement of a variety of goals. The leaders in a firm influence how people behave, how they work towards the achievement of the various goals of the firm as well as establish a common bond between themselves and her followers. Leadership is important for a number of reasons. The first is to motivate the various employees of the firm. The motivation is necessary so that the employees can be able to perform their duties as is required by the management of the firm. The leaders must work towards the creation of an environment in which the different members of the organisation can interact, release their energies and engage in hard work towards the achievement of the various goal of the firm (Paglis & Green, 2002). The leadership is also important as it will leads to the creation of confidence amongst the employees thus they will be aided in the achievement of both their personal and collective goals. Otherwise, the employees of the firm will not be able to use their potentials towards the achievement of the different goals of the firm. Also, there will be a very low rate of commitment amongst the employees if they do not receive proper.
Thirdly, the leadership also ensures that there is a high level of morale amongst the employees thus the result will be timely and efficient completion of the different duties of the employees. This will lead to higher rates of productivity as well as stability in the organisation. A strong leadership also ensures that there is a high rate of cooperation between the employees of the firm. There will be a high rate of team work as the leader will create an environment where the employees of the firm will voluntarily work as a group and a team (Paglis & Green, 2002). Moreover, leadership also ensures that there is a serene environment in which work can be carried out in the organisation. The leader will ensure that there is a unity of purpose amongst the employees especially in regards to how the leader uses his power. Finally, in the organisation where group and team working is encouraged, the leader works as the glue or the force that bring that brings the different members of the groups together.
Leadership styles
            The leadership style that is adopted in an organisation will determine whether the leadership in the organisation is a success or a failure. There are two general styles; positive leadership where the motive of the leader is to create a conducive environment where the needs of the employees will be satisfied so that the employees can have both the morale and the commitment to work for the firm. The other is negative leadership where fear and force is used by the leader so that they can influence the followers. Under such style of leadership, formal authority is invoked by the leaders so that the employees can work towards the achievement of the goals of the organisation. There are four (4) main leadership styles that any organisation can take (Fulop & Linstead, 1999).
The first is autocratic leadership where the decision making power in an organisation is highly centralised and the employees of the firm carry out the roles that have been assigned to them. In such an organisation, the leader is considered as superior to the employees and in most cases, the leader uses fear, force and threats to get his way. There are three main types of autocratic leadership. The first is where the leader heavily uses negative approach especially by ordering employees around. This is the best recipe for resentful behaviour amongst the employees (Fulop & Linstead, 1999). The second type is where the leader makes decisions by themselves and then influences the employee to accept the decisions. This is an example of positive approach. Thirdly, the leader can also manipulate the subordinates to the extent that they may feel they are involved in the decision making while in the real case, the decisions are made by the leader. The main advantage of autocratic leadership is that it allows for quick decision making. The downsides of this style include the employees relegating the goals of the organisation to their own personal goals; there are low morale and motivation amongst the employees.
The second style of leadership is democratic where the employees or the subordinates are involved in the decision making ventures of the firm. Douglas McGregor categorised this style under his theory Y where subordinates assume responsibility and are also involved in the decision making. There is a high rate of team work and participation of the different employees of the firm (Baruch, 1998). The welfare of the employees are considered in such instances thus there is a high level of support and commitment of the employees towards the achievement off the goals of the organisation.
Thirdly is the laissez faire where there is a general lack of control and the leader in most instances is engaged in passing the buck of responsibility to the subordinates. The employees of the firm are given freedom to do as they wish. It is characterised by a high level of delegation of duties (Mason, 1992). For the style to b successful, the employees must be very well aware of the goals of the organisation, the leader must fully delegate power, high skill level amongst the subordinates and they also have the urge to assume the responsibility they are given. Finally, there is paternalistic where the leader views himself as the parent to the employees and he therefore seeks to keep them happy (McShane & Von Glinow, 2000). The emphasis is thus laid on a good working environment.
            The leadership at IKEA has been on that greatly promoting the development of team work and group working among the different employees at the firm. At the firm, the leaders, group heads and the managers, highly consult the employees of the firm before they can embark on any activities that will affect the way the work in the organisation is carried out. The management of IKEA practices democratic leadership style where the different employees in the departments set goals so that they greatly understand what they are working towards. The employees do not feel coerced into doing anything in the firm and thus in most cases, they greatly like the wok that they are doing in the firm.
Secondly, the employees in the organisation are rewarded for their divisions’ achievement on top of their salaries which are always due every month end. The culture of group rewards is very common in the firm thus the different employees who work in the various divisions will work so hard towards the realisation of the goals of the departments where they work so that when the rewards come about, they will be considered. This has made the firm more inclined to communism where all strive to achieve the goals of the department thus by extension contributing to the achievement of the overall goal of the organisation.
Also, the leadership of the firm also ensures there is a culture of respect that is in existence between the various employees of the firm; be them in the management or are just working their way through the ranks of the firm. The IKEA’s management philosophy requires the leaders to respect, understand and also motivate the various employees so that they can not feel inferior to the leaders. There is also a cordial relationship between the different employees in the departments so that there is always a team mentality (IKEA, 2012). No one in the firm is made to feel as if they are small; though in reality they may be subordinates. It can thus be said that the management and the leaders in the firm are working so hard towards the creation of a conducive environment where all the employees of the firm feel appreciated. This culture of respect sometime dissolves especially between the employees who have different cultures especially in regard to the power distance, and individualism (Hofstede, 1980). This has been a major problem for the firm between the employees from the Middle East and those from Central Europe.
Moreover, through the provision of a variety of benefits to the employees of IKEA, the leaders of the work have greatly satisfied their role of motivating the employees of the firm. The benefits that the employees of the firm have include dental cover which goes all year round thus the employees do snot have to worry about medical expenses. The employees are also given such benefits as education funds so that they can complete their education (Paglis & Green, 2002; IKEA, 2012). The insurance that the employees pay is also low thus the employees feel greatly motivated to reciprocate the goodness that they have been offered by the firm. The benefits differ across the country operations of the firm thus when a person is moved from one country to another they will be disadvantaged.
The leaders at IKEA trust the employees including a belief that they have the capacity to carry out the different kinds of duties that are allocated to them. However, this is not true for the entire department of the firm. While some departments’ exhibit democratic leadership where the employees contribute towards setting of the different goals of the firm, there are others where there is a laissez faire leadership. The laissez faire is found in the departments where the managers or the team leaders completely have trust in the ability and the commitment of the various employees (Fulop & Linstead, 1999). The trust in the ability of the employees will give them confidence in their activities and thus they will not only work to accomplish their personal goals, they will also work harder at the achievement of the goals of the organisation. There are however employees who do not have the requisite skills and have a high dislike for the leaders to watch them as they carry out their duties.
Implications and challenges
            The leadership style that is most prevalent in the firm; democracy, will ensure that the goals that are set are binding and acceptable to both the employees and the leaders. This will ensure that benefits are reaped for both the employees in terms of personal growth and for the firm in terms of increased profitability. There may arise instances where the goal of the firm are not achieved in the cases where the employees who are entrusted completely with the duties have very little skill and or commitment to carry out the different types of jobs that are given to them (Baruch, 1998). The other challenge is in terms of the different cultures of the employees who may be working in the different divisions thus leading to lack of team work between the different employees of the firm.
The implications for the employees will be to be highly involved in the various activities of the firm especially by showing the potential they have to carry out the different duties that they may be given by the team leaders.  The manager and the employees must work together so that any problems that may arise between the different employees of the firm can be dealt with before they escalate into full blow conflicts in the firm. According to Hofstede (1980) the managers and or the team leaders must be at hand to ensure that the grouping of employees into groups consider the compatibility of their cultures or knowledge of the other cultures so that there can be no cases of misunderstanding in terms of the different cultures.
            Leadership is important for a number of reasons in any given firm. They include providing a conducive atmosphere for the employees, to motivate, create confidence and increase the levels of the morale of the employees of the firm. The employees of IKEA are governed under the democratic leadership style as they are involved in the various activities; from the decision making in the firm to the actual implementation of the ideas. This ensures that the different employees highly understand the different roles that they are supposed to play in the firm. IKEA promotes the development of team and group working amongst the employees on top of providing an increased level of incentive to the employees in terms of the various benefits that the employees have. Majority of the employees of the firm are friendly thus there is a high level of respect between the different groups of people. However, the firm must deal with the laissez faire ideologies that are found in some departments especially if the employees who are left on their own do not have the necessary skills to carry out the duties without the leader’s guidance.
Baruch, Y. (1998), "Leadership—Is That What We Study?" Journal of Leadership Studies,5(1): 100–124
IKEA (2012), IKEA, [online] <from> Retrieved on 03/02/2012
Fulop, L. & Linstead, S. (1999), Management: A Critical Text, South Yarra: Macmillan
Hofstede, G. (1980), Culture’s Consequences: International differences in work related values, New York: Sage Publications
Mason, J. C. (1992), "Leading the Way into the 21st Century", Management Review, 81(10): 16–20
McShane, S. & Von Glinow, M.A. (2000), Organisational Behaviour, Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill
Paglis, L. & Green, S. 2002, "Leadership self-efficacy and manager’s motivation for leading change", Journal of Organisational Behaviour, 23(2): 215-235